Archive for October, 2013

AT Work Trip – 7-25-2013

It had been two weeks since my last work trip to my section of the Appalachian Trail to cut the annual growth when I was finally able to get back to finish the job. The last trip was an all day rain filled adventure which left us soaked but on this trip it would be quite the opposite as it was a beautiful sunny day with postcard blue skies and warm temps. On this trip my friend Sam Kilby and my girlfriend Linda came along to help me out as we finished up cutting from Spivey Gap to High Rocks and back. The weeds had grown some in the two weeks but they were no where near as tall and thick as they were on the higher parts of the section. Also, the lower part is more under the trees with fewer sunny, trouble spots. It was actually an easy day for a change and we had a good hike up to High Rocks and back and Same surprised us with grilled bbq chicken breasts for lunch ! We did encounter a black hornet nest hanging low in a small tree right next to the trail which had been damaged by something, so we made sure to tread lightly but quickly by them. We hung out on High Rocks for a long lunch break before hiking back down to the car to enjoy the fruits of our labor on the way back. I hope to get back at least one more time this year to clear out the water-bars after all the leaves fall.


View from High Rocks looking towards No Business Knob


Posted on 24 October '13 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.

AT Work Trip – 7-10-2013

I was late this year in getting around to cutting the annual growth of my section of the Appalachian Trail. The forecast was not good but I have to go when my friend Doug Corkhill goes as he is gracious enough to drive out of his way to pick me up at my trail head (Spivey Gap) and ride with him to the top of Big Bald where his section begins to enable me to walk downhill and work my entire section one way. When we arrived on Big Bald it was already sprinkling light rain. This is never a good sign and even worse for Doug who was hoping to use his lawn mower to cut across the bald towards the shelter. The growth was jungle like since it had rained so much already this year and us getting a late start in the year also did not help things. The best part was that I had ample amount of helpers on this trip as my old friend Sam Kilby came and brought his weed eater, along with my son Tyler and my daughters boyfriend Mitch who were both using swing blades like myself. I did not take many pictures as it was fogged in the entire time and after we started our descent of Little Bald the thunder and lightning and heavy rains started. It rained on us almost the entire time. It was the hardest rain I have ever hiked in and keep in mind that I hiked North from Springer Mountain Georgia in 1991 and it rained for 12 of the 14 days and I was wetter on this work trip than I was the entire time in Georgia ! We did not let the extremely heavy rain defy us as we came to cut weeds and that`s exactly what we did, but it was a long hard and very wet day. I can not thank Sam enough because his weed eater really made a huge difference in getting as far as we did. We cut all the way to High Rocks (about 4 miles of trail) in the non stop pouring down rain with loud thunder and violent lightning the whole time. The trail was like a creek and was white capping over my boots pouring right down into them. I have never seen so much water on a trail and I have hiked in rain for over 30 years ! I was glad when it was finally over and we were back to the car but even happier that the weeds and growth was cut and all I would have to do is come back to finish from High Rocks to Spivey Gap hopefully in the next week or two.


Our view from the TN side of Little Bald (looking towards Flattop Mtn.)


Posted on 24 October '13 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.

Mountains To Sea Trail Hike – 6-21-2013 to 6-23-2013

I recently reconnected with an old friend whom I have not seen in over 20 years. It was good to see my long lost hiking buddy, Sam Kilby who was an original member of the Rat Patrol Hiking Club back in the good ole days. We celebrated by doing a 3 day hike and I was given the task of choosing the location. The only criteria I was given was that it had to be somewhere that Sam had not been before. Since we did A LOT of hiking back in the old days, mostly in TN, I chose to do a section of the Mountains to Sea Trail in North Carolina. I chose part of a section that my friend Bol’Dar and I had hiked last year on my annual birthday hike of 2012. Sam and myself  started on a Friday at Beacon Heights along the Blue Ridge Parkway and the plan was to come out on Sunday just beyond Huntfish Falls on FR464 (Pineola Rd). It was a beautiful sunny day with a postcard blue sky with fluffy clouds and there was no chance of rain for the week so we had a great time catching up on the past 20+ years while enjoying something we both love doing which is backpacking through the wilderness. Our first stop was the two rocky overlooks on Beacon Heights.


View from our starting point, Beacon Heights


Posted on 24 October '13 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.

Linville Gorge (A Weekend with The Gorge Rats!) – 5-25-2013 to 5-26-2013

After getting home from Trail Days, I finally got an opportunity to do some hiking in the Linville Gorge also known as the Grand Canyon of the East. The Cherokee Indians called it “Eseeoh,” meaning a river of many cliffs. Today the Linville Gorge is named after explorer William Linville and his son, John, who were killed by Cherokees in the gorge in 1766. This is a place I have been wanting to explore  for quite some time now so, when I was invited to join the Gorge Rat’s (a group formed and dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the gorge) I jumped at the chance! I had a gig on Friday night so it would be Saturday morning before I could make it to the Gorge Rat`s camp at the Hawksbill Trail head. They gather together here each year in the Spring and Fall. I was welcomed in and felt right at home with these fellow rats.

linville gorge

Looking across the lower end of the gorge towards Shortoff Mountain from a rocky overlook beside the Amphitheatre


Posted on 22 October '13 by , under RATtreks. 1 Comment.

Trail Days – 5 – 17 – 2013 to 5 – 19 – 2013

Despite the absence of some of our dearest hiker trash family, and nearly being killed during the Hiker Parade, this years Trail Daze was still a lot of fun. It is much like a huge family reunion where we only get to see many of our friends once a year. Thanks to the modern age of social media we are able to keep in touch a lot better than it was in the many years prior but, nothing takes the place of getting to hang out and have fun together at Hairntville.

The weather did not cooperate this year as we did have a lot of rain, so much in fact that it made it tough to get the vehicles out of the upper field where this years camping area was moved to. There was no choice but to move it there as the lower yard was way too wet a week before the event from weeks of rain. We had a great time up until the Hiker Parade on Sat, where my daughter, her boyfriend, her dog, and myself were hit first from behind by an out of control Cadillac driven by an older guy who suffered from a sugar coma. After striking us and a parked car, he went on to mow down dozens of other hikers in the parade. My daughter nearly went under the car but,  despite many injuries no one was seriously hurt or killed which was miraculous. The emergency response people were phenomenal in their handling of the crisis. What better place to have an accident than where dozens of emergency personnel were close by ! Literally within seconds they were on scene and helping the many who were injured. Five helicopters were called in along with several ambulances and within 20 minutes all the injured were in route to various hospitals including ourselves. I can not praise or thank them enough for their excellence that day.

It took a long time for the shock of that traumatic adventure to wear off but we managed to not let it ruin our good times back at Hairntville as we were all thankful to still be able to sit around the fire, eat good food , drink some beer, play guitars, and enjoy the company of our closest hiker trash friends. I am already looking forward to next year. To see the complete collection of photo`s from this years festivities, please visit the Photo Gallery here.


Hairnt Stone at the Level 2 Fire Pit at Trail Days 2013

Posted on 18 October '13 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.

Dave does the Waterfall Tour ! – 5-2-2013

My waterfall crazy friend Dave Aldridge has asked me to take him to a few of the more difficult to get to waterfall locations in this area ever since I have known him.These include such places as Buckeye Falls (both the base and from Chigger Ridge), Josiah, and Lilybeth Falls (just to name a few). We did finally get to Chigger Ridge but it was not until recently that we succeeded in getting him through the Waterfall Tour without any mishaps. If you are not already aware of what falls the Waterfall Tour includes, it takes you down all of the following: Lilybeth Falls, Devil`s Slide Falls, Josiah Falls, and Pine Ridge Falls. Getting to and climbing down each of these falls is not an easy task and it is only recommended for the most experienced off trail hikers especially since the old road into Devils Fork is completely devastated and we had to find a new way in.  It is a shorter route but, MUCH steeper. First one has to get to the top of Rich Mountain to get to the new route down which involves some climbing no matter how you get there. We started out in Sill Branch which is a two mile hike UPHILL to the old road (the last part of which is very steep) which will then lead you out to FR190. We did encounter a mama bear and her cub while photographing a small falls there but I was unable to get a pic of them. (Bol’Dar got one and I have included it below) From FR190 it is extreme downhill the rest of the way to reach the Devil Fork Valley. Dave did good on the steep climb up the South Fork of Sill Branch but, was very happy to finally reach the level ground of the old road.

lilybeth falls

Lilybeth Falls


Posted on 17 October '13 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.